1961 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Vignale
The Maserati story is a fascinating one. The Maserati brothers were all involved in the automotive industry in some way or another, however, it was on the 1st of December 1914 that Alfieri, Ettore and Ernesto Maserati officially opened Alfieri Maserati Workshop in Bologna, Italy. The business was focussed on repairing, servicing and preparing cars, however, World War I cut business short and it wasn’t until 1926 that Maserati built its first car, the Tipo 26.
Maserati chose the trident logo to adorn its cars. Its design was based on the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore.
It was all about motorsport back then and in 1937 the Orsi family acquired ownership of Maserati which was in desperate need of financial backing to be able to survive. During the Orsi years Maserati grew from a boutique but very successful race car builder to one of the world’s leading manufacturers of hand built sports and GT cars. Orsi sold to Citroen in 1969 and subsequent owners of Maserati included the Italian state, De Tomaso, Fiat, Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler.
Maserati’s first road car, the A6/1500 was shown at the 1947 Geneva Motor Show.
Subsequent models included the A6G/2000, 3500 series cars, 5000GT, Mistral, Quattroporte, Mexico, Sebring and Ghibli. Maserati also continued to build very successful race cars that dominated tracks around the world including the 250F, 300S, 150S, 450S and the Birdcage.
Perhaps the most important Maserati ‘GT car’ was the 3500 GT, which was first shown at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show in March of that year. The first production 3500GT’s left the factory in late 1957. Designed by Carrozzeria Touring, the Maserati 3500 GT featured ‘superleggera’ construction with an all aluminium body. The car was powered by a detuned version of Maserati’s V6 engine found in the race cars, with wet sump lubrication. The engines were initially fitted with triple Weber carburettors and later fuel injection, though many customers ordered their later cars with carburettors. Maserati got the formula right and the car was a great success. From 1957 through until 1964 almost 2,000 cars were built, the majority of which were the ‘standard’ cars bodied by Touring. A small number were bodied by specialist coachbuilders such as Allemano, Boneschi, Frua and Bertone.
At the 1958 Turin Motor Show a Maserati 3500 GT Convertible, bodied by Touring, was first shown. Interestingly, that car never entered production and Maserati opted for the Carrozzeria Vignale (designed by Michelotti) Maserati 3500 GT Convertible, which was first shown at the 1959 Paris Motor Show. The Convertible did not feature Touring’s ‘superleggera’ construction, rather a steel body with an aluminium bonnet, boot lid and optional hard top. The Convertible was built on a wheelbase that was 10cm shorter than the Coupe. The Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Vignale is one of the most beautiful cars ever built and there are certainly similarities with Ferrari’s 250 GT Cabriolet by Pinin Farina and 250 GT California Spyder. Only 242 Maserati 3500 GT Spyders by Vignale were built from 1959 through until 1964.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a rare 1961 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Vignale. The Maserati Classiche documentation on file confirms that this particular car was completed on the 5th June 1961 and despatched to Arcugnano, Vicenza in northern Italy. It was fitted with Maserati’s 3485cc engine (with carburettors), a 5 speed manual gearbox, Borrani disc wheels and a factory hard top. The car was finished in ‘argento luna’ (silver) with a red interior.
We have a period photo on file showing the car with the Italian registration 58552VE. It is understood that the car first came to Australia in the late 1960‘s with a Mr Luigi Micheletti, who was with the Italian consulate. As a consulate car it could be registered in Australia as left hand drive. The car was registered in the ACT as YDC 747 with a red ‘LEFT HAND DRIVE’ sticker under the rear number plate. Mr Micheletti returned to Italy in 1972 or 1973 and sold the car to its next owner, Mr Graeme Snape based in Sydney. At that time the car was converted to right hand drive and registered as HPS905 (NSW) and later GS2717 (NSW). The car remained in continuous ownership through until 1984 when it was sold through Bob Shannon to its next owner, a Mr Brian Horman. The Maserati changed hands again in circa 1987 and it found its way to a well known car collector and enthusiast based in Melbourne. During his ownership the car was well known in the Melbourne classic car scene and it was often seen at events such as The Dutton Rally. The car was repainted red and the interior retrimmed in tan during his ownership. The current owner, who is one of Australia’s most prominent car collectors and enthusiasts acquired this Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder in 1992. During his ownership the car has been used and also displayed at the Fremantle and York Motor Museums in WA. The car is now offered for sale for the first time in 28 years.
Today this Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder presents and drives beautifully. The paintwork is bright with a strong depth of colour. There are a few minor defects and blemishes evident, but overall it is very good. Importantly, the car looks to be structurally excellent. All the exterior trim, badges and the glass are in very good condition. The front indicator lenses and the left hand rear tail light lens look to be original and are slightly faded. This Maserati now runs Borrani wire wheels, that are in excellent condition and suit the car perfectly. Inside, the cabin is ‘just a lovely place to be’. The leather seats, door cards and centre console show ‘just the right amount of patina’. There are no rips or tears. The red carpets show some wear, though they are still presentable. A highlight of any Maserati 3500 GT is the dash, instruments and controls. On this car they all present well and everything looks to be in working order.
The car starts easily once the Weber carburettors have been primed. The engine idles incredibly smoothly and it sounds fabulous making all the right noises and with a raspy exhaust note. The car doesn’t take long to warm up, select first gear and away you go. It is a very easy car to drive and after a very short distance you feel very comfortable. You can’t help but time warp back to 1961 and to either the French Riviera or Hollywood . . .
So back to the car . . . it just does everything with aplomb. The engine pulls strongly and the ZF gearbox is very smooth up and down the box, though it must be said that the second gear synchro is a little weak changing down when the gearbox is cold. The car drives smoothly, handles well and stops as one would expect.
– Confirmed by Maserati Classiche as delivered on the 5th June 1961 and sold new into Vicenza, Italy.
– Matching numbers chassis and engine.
– This car has been in Australia for most of its life and comes from 28 years of continuous ownership with a major collector.
– Known history back to the late 1960’s.
– Special order with carburettors.
– Desirable specification car with disc brakes and a five speed gearbox.
– This is a beautifully presented and driving car.
– Maserati built only 242 examples of the 3500 GT Vignale Spyders making these one of the rarest and most exclusive models.
– We understand this is 1 of only 5 examples in Australia.
The Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Vignale is included in Classic Cars “Hot 30 Classics to Buy in 2020” list of cars GBP 500,000+
- Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Vignale
- 14,578 km
- 3485 cc